Chickens are expensive to care for

Chickens in the garden: 10 professional tips for keeping them right

Many now choose to get their eggs from their own chickens. We give tips on how to keep chickens in the garden.

When buying eggs, many are unsure: Factory farming in particular is repeatedly criticized and tempts animal lovers to forego eggs. In fact, there is a simple solution: if you can get your breakfast eggs from your own garden in the morning, you don't have to worry about questionable animal husbandry. And keeping chickens in your own garden can do even more: Not only are the chickens a real eye-catcher and extremely interesting to watch, they sharpen the understanding of food in both children and adults. Here we show you how to keep chickens quickly and easily.

Chickens are not only pretty to look at, but also really useful. We have put together the ten best tips so that your garden will soon become a paradise for chickens.

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1. The right breed of chicken

Did you know that there are a number of different breeds in chickens? In fact, over 180 breeds of chicken are listed in the European pedigree poultry standard. There are also different colors within the races and foreign exotic species. All of these breeds differ not only in their appearance, but also differ greatly in their temperament and other characteristics - this can be confusing for newcomers to chicken husbandry. Fortunately, there are some breeds of chicken that are highly recommended for beginners. Especially old breeds such as Plymouth Rocks or Orpington are considered to be extremely robust, but at the same time they are quite trusting. Barnevelders have the advantage that they cannot fly - ideal for free range in the garden. If you place great value on a good laying performance, you should take a closer look at the Sundheimer. These not only lay up to 200 eggs a year, but are also extremely easy to care for.

2. Buy a chicken coop

In addition to choosing the right breeds, the barn is particularly essential for successful chicken husbandry. There are now some chicken houses and aviaries that are delivered ready for assembly. These ready-made solutions are a great alternative, especially for people without a lot of manual experience or with limited time. However, you should make sure that the chicken house is not covered with roofing felt (the red poultry mite can nest here quickly). Even if the price is too low, you should be puzzled - often the quality is not right and the chicken coop does not survive wind and weather unscathed.

Recently there are also chicken coops that are made entirely of plastic. Although these do not shine with a rustic ambience, they are often assembled much faster and are much easier to clean later. Finally, the question arises as to whether you would rather have a mobile or a fixed hen house. Mobile stalls have the advantage that the floor in the run is protected by moving them. This makes them particularly interesting for larger gardens. Fixed chicken coops, on the other hand, are particularly predator-proof and can be adapted more individually to the needs of the chickens.

3. Build your own chicken coop

Building your own chicken coop has a number of advantages: You can save significantly on costs and also cater to individual requirements and wishes - such as special shapes or colors. So it is no wonder that many hobby owners swear by self-made chicken coops. However, there are a few points to consider when building a chicken coop. The most important thing is the right size - bantams should have 0.3 square meters of space per chicken, larger breeds even 0.4 square meters. The best materials for self-construction are wood or stone. Most of the time, however, wood is preferred because it is not only cheaper to buy, but also easier to build. Concrete or bricks, on the other hand, have the advantage that they offer better protection against gnawing animals, but also against predators.

If you want a mobile chicken coop, you can also use old trailers as the starting material for this. In addition, adequate insulation is essential for the chicken coop, as temperatures below 5 ° C can affect the quality of the eggs. Also draft is not allowed in the chicken coop. In addition, care should be taken to ensure that there is sufficient incidence of light - plexiglass is particularly suitable for hobby craftsmen for window construction.

4. Chicken coop: the right equipment

The chicken doesn't just need four walls - the inner workings of the new chicken coop are crucial for their well-being. A sufficiently thick layer of litter - for example straw, wood shavings or hay - should be used as a floor covering. This not only binds the legacies of its new residents, but is also an excellent activity material that invites you to scratch and peck. So-called automatic feeders are best suited for feeding and a sufficient water supply overnight: Here the feed or water is filled into a large container and then flows independently into a channel from which the chickens can help themselves.

By the way, the chickens don't need their nests to sleep, but a so-called perch. So that the chickens are comfortable here, the bar should be as round as possible and about five centimeters high. In addition, the bar should be placed in the upper third of the house, as chickens seek shelter in higher places during the night. In order to avoid disputes and lack of space, it is worthwhile to install several perches (also on several levels) - at a minimum, each chicken should have at least 25 to 30 centimeters of space.

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5. The laying box

In addition to their coop, the chickens need a separate nest that they can use to lay eggs. Often a simple wooden box measuring 35 x 40 x 40 centimeters, which has been strewn with enough hay or straw, is sufficient. You can also buy laying boxes ready-made in specialist shops, where they are often equipped with sophisticated techniques for collecting the eggs. Incidentally, the laying boxes are particularly well received when they are raised a little - a flap that can be removed from the outside makes it easier to collect eggs every day. Especially at the beginning it can happen that the chickens do not accept the nest and put it in the stable or in the run, for example. A simple trick can help here: a dummy egg (for example a plaster egg, but also plastic or marble eggs from the Easter decoration) in the nest ensures better acceptance. You should expect a laying box for five chickens, but two nests should still be available for fewer than five chickens.

6. Design of the chicken run

Of course, chickens shouldn't sit in their coop all day, but should also explore their environment. In fact, you quickly realize that chickens are very curious - and that they are great to watch, especially in the run. So that the chickens can freely choose between exercise and barn during the day, the barn should be equipped with a chicken flap: about 25 centimeters wide and 40 centimeters high, this allows the chickens free choice of space without the large door having to remain open. To prevent the animals from gathering the litter from the barn, it is worth setting the flap almost 30 centimeters above the floor - a chicken ladder can make it easier for the hard-working hens to get in later. However, this hatch also has to be closed overnight, otherwise it is easy for Fuchs and Co.

The outdoor area should generally be three square meters per animal, if the sward is to be protected, even 20 square meters per animal are advisable. The run is limited by a fence, which (depending on the breed) should have a height of about one meter to 2.5 meters. Wire mesh, in particular, has proven itself here, but special mesh fences for chickens can also be used. When designing the run, the following applies: the more natural, the better. English lawn is relatively unpopular with chickens because it offers them no hiding places. Bushes, hedges and trees in the run, on the other hand, are ideal and offer additional protection from the weather. Mobile stables with alternating pastures are also popular with chickens: Not only can the sward relax, but the animals can also pursue their natural curiosity.

7. Feeding chickens

It is clear to everyone that chickens need feed - but what exactly they should be fed with raises questions for many beginners. The basic ration for chicken rearing should consist of a grain feed (e.g. wheat or ground corn). In addition, you should offer special laying meal, as this provides the hens with enough minerals and vitamins for laying eggs. In addition, of course, enough fresh water is part of the daily feed ration. But chickens also like variety. In fact, the animals are real omnivores that make a compost heap almost superfluous: vegetables and fruit, but also hard bread and pasta or even quark are among the favorite foods of the hard-working animals. But animal protein must also be provided. Chickens not only like to eat insects, but also neatly peck leftovers on bones. Only spicy, moldy or spoiled foods do not belong in the feed bowl - these can lead to serious illnesses in chickens as well.

8. Keeping chickens: Registration at the veterinary office

Chicken rearing bureaucracy? Yes, they really do exist - chickens must be registered with the animal disease fund and the responsible veterinary office, even if it is only a private hobby. Depending on the federal state, this is not necessarily associated with costs: In Schleswig-Holstein, for example, keeping up to 25 animals is free of charge. In return for registering with the animal disease fund, chicken owners can receive compensation if animals die due to an animal disease or have to be killed due to an official order. If you do not register the animals, however, it can be expensive: Not only can compensation payments be canceled, the veterinary office can also impose fines on chicken farmers who have not registered their animals.

9. Chicken keeping: building rights and neighborhood disputes

Chicken farmers not only have to be careful when registering for the animal disease fund: laws must also be observed in many other areas. For example, the building use ordinance must be taken into account - according to this, everyone is allowed to keep four hens and one rooster in their garden, as they are small animals like rabbits or guinea pigs. While there are hardly any problems with mobile chicken coops of this size, if you have a larger number of chickens or permanent pens you should take a look at the local building law. Here you will find the respective regulations, including maximum sizes or the minimum distance to the neighboring property. Speaking of neighbors: In order to avoid a dispute, it is advisable to inform the surrounding houses in advance about the purchase of chickens. Otherwise, the cock crow, in particular, can lead to one or the other difference of opinion. If you want to avoid this in advance, you can use time-controlled flaps and good insulation of the barn to ensure pleasant quiet in the early morning and late evening hours - even doing without a rooster can ensure peace in the street.

10. Keeping chickens in the city

Keeping chickens on the terrace or even on the balcony? At first glance, this idea confuses most people. In fact, keeping chickens on the terrace is no reason to call animal welfare - on the contrary. In the city, too, chickens can lead a species-appropriate life under the right conditions. The basic requirement for keeping chickens is of course sufficient space - a green roof is much more suitable than a small balcony. Otherwise, the same rules apply as for keeping chickens in the garden: a stable as weather protection with complete interior fittings should be available and the exercise area must be adequately secured. In addition, the run should be equipped with potted plants and small hiding spots to create retreats for the chickens. By the way, bantam breeds are particularly suitable for keeping in smaller spaces, as they generally require less exercise and are calmer. However, you have to realize that keeping it on the terrace or balcony means a lot more work - and keeping it close to the house can also cause an unpleasant smell and discomfort on the part of the neighbors.

Do you not only want to keep chickens, but also bees yourself? Then you will find our article "Ways to become a hobby beekeeper: Instructions & tips from professionals" here.

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Frederike

I am a student of agricultural sciences and a real village child. At home I have a small vegetable garden that I tend and look after, and I prefer to spend the time outside. When I'm not outdoors, I love to write. My love is not only for plants and writing, but also especially for the animal world.
Favorite fruit: currants and raspberries.
Favorite vegetables: salsify, savoy cabbage and potatoes.